Rx for Reading Community Libraries–Making Space for Reading!

In a city characterized as a “book desert,” how do you grow an environment that is rich with print?

Hamtramck Neighborhood Center

Rx for Reading Library at Hamtramck Neighborhood Center, painted by design historian and educator Grace Vandervliet.

Our answer is that reading can happen anywhere, so books need to be everywhere. Over the last two years Rx for Reading has established over 30 community libraries in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, in addition to our 15 clinic libraries in health, dental, and WIC clinics. These little houses for books can be found in community centers, churches, schools, shelters, and more. At each Rx for Reading Community Library children and families are invited to choose books to “Take, Read, Share!”–over 15,000 books in all, in addition to 55,000 books distributed through our other programs.

Discovery Kids 2

Choosing books from the Developing K.I.D.S. library!

“As the ultimate portable object, books move from community spaces into the home environments of children, where they have been shown to have such a powerful impact on literacy and academic success.”  

Mary-Catherine Harrison, Ph.D. from “Rx for Reading Detroit: Place-Based Social Justice Pedagogy” (Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Spring 2017)

Hamtramck Neighborhood Center 2 cropped

Painting the library at Hamtramck Neighborhood Center. Hamtramck Neighborhood Center is our only community partner with not one but two libraries–they are shared by the kids and seniors who use the Center.

“The Hamtramck Neighborhood Center has been transformed so that the community, seniors and youth can receive services in a safe inviting space. Seniors come during the day for wellness and health classes and activities. The youth come after school and during the summer for great exposure to recreation, art, cooking and yoga classes. Both groups use the “reading lounge” to relax and enjoy a good book donated by Rx for Reading Detroit.”

Gregory Everett, LMSW, Executive Director of People’s Community Services of Metropolitan Detroit.

Hamtramck Neighborhood Center I

The Reading Lounge at Hamtramck Neighborhood Center.

Rx for Reading libraries are not only resources for the community; they are created through a community effort. Our community partners serve as library stewards, helping to keep the libraries safe and stocked with books. Building materials are purchased with monetary donations from our generous supporters, who also donate books to help keep them filled. John Mio Woodworking volunteers their labor and many painters have volunteered their artistic expertise, including kids who use the libraries! If you would like to sponsor an Rx for Reading Community Library, a donation of $150 places a library with a new community partner. Every $20 purchases 10 new books for kids to “Take, Read, Share!” Give here: https://impact.udmercy.edu/rxreading

Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation

Rx for Reading Library at the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation, painted by Beth Reeck, art student at the Stamps School of Art and Design. Last summer eleven local artists painted Rx for Reading community libraries at Stamps, a project organized by Rebekah Modrak, Associate Professor of Art at University of Michigan.

Delray Neighborhood House

Rx for Reading Library at Delray Neighborhood House, painted by Adrian Deva, painter and art educator at University of Michigan. Delray House offers kids in Southwest Detroit opportunities to develop physically, academically, and socially through their after-school program, playground, game room, museum of local artifacts, and even a miniature theatre!

Parkman Monster Library

An extra special Rx for Reading Library at Detroit Public Library, seen here with Crystal Jolly, Children’s Librarian of the DPL Parkman Branch. This “book monster” library was painted by Michigan artist David Zinn.


Thank you to every one of our supporters and our community partners who have “made space” for reading! Together we are raising readers and leaders in our community.


 

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